INKLINGS: Just the right gift

  • Thursday, July 26, 2012

With few exceptions, I’ve never considered myself an especially good gift-giver. I do a lot of thinking and a lot of looking and quite often am not a lot satisfied with my final choice. Sometimes though, fate begets inspiration. For instance, our son-in-law Todd makes an incredible tamponade.  After hearing how he spent hours chopping the various ingredients, I showed him my mini-processor and he said he’d have to get one. I promptly went out and bought one for his birthday – then still months away – and presented it immediately. I just knew he would buy one for himself and I wanted to give him just the right thing.
On the other end of the scale is our son David, who when I said to him I just didn’t know what to get for his last birthday, informed me that he had told me numerous times over the last several months that he could use a couple of new crab traps. Couldn’t I take a hint? Or several of them? Apparently not! (Alas, I just never thought of a crab trap as a gift.)
My predicament is made even worse because my family always seems to choose just right. For instance, the picture they gave us for our recent wedding anniversary. It’s a beautiful, highly detailed photograph of a pelican in flight. Synergy was the secret here. Pelicans are one of my favorite birds. The photo was taken by a very special person, Brant Barrett, our nephew and the ring-bearer in our wedding 55 years ago this month. Brant has now retired and gone into photography, specializing in Lowcountry scenes and species. We had glimpsed his prize-winning photo and raved about it. Result: the kids ordered one for us. Then David and his son Riley made a special trip to Myrtle Beach and back to pick it up in time for the anniversary celebration. I think of each and every one of these things whenever I look at this photograph perched atop our mantle. I just wish I could do this kind of thing for those who are special to me.
I finally discovered a (kind of) way – something I had rejected for ages. When my mom got up in years, she turned to giving cash or gift certificates. She said it was easier on her and then everybody could get what they wanted. I turned up my nose. “Just you wait,” she told me, “you’ll change your mind when you get a few more years on you!”  She proved it by presenting me with a gift certificate on my next birthday. Turns out I was delighted and spent ages perusing choices and got something I really fancied.
The light dawned. Its gleam was helped by the aging and changing of our six-pack of grands. Their likes, wants and needs seem to vary weekly as do their got-to-have styles and trends. I’ve discovered that from about middle school upward, they really like to get what mom used to call the “where with all.”  As she predicted, I’ve expanded this method to adults in the family too.
And as much as I’ve chewed this over mentally, verbally and on paper, I can say with some authority that it’s truly “the thought that counts!”

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